Bombers and Eskimos in Wild Final Practice Game
WINNIPEG, MB. – For Mike O’Shea’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, it’s been two pre-season games and two ties.
Now, that’s something that’s never happened before.
On Thursday night in front of an announced crowd of 24,934 at Investors Group Field, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers gave up a 38-23 fourth-quarter lead and played the Edmonton Eskimos to a 38-38 draw.
“Both ties, I’ve never experienced that before,” Bombers backup quarterback Dominique Davis said. “I didn’t even know you can end in a tie in pre-season. So two ties, we really don’t celebrate ties around here, but it’s a lot of good things we can look back on.”
This was a wild one. The Eskimos jumped out to a quicker 17-3 lead as Edmonton’s second string ran all over Winnipeg’s first string. Then the Bombers got their act together and took a 38-23 lead late in the game. But Edmonton’s fourth quarterback, Zach Kline, put 15 unanswered points on the board in a late scoring frenzy as the Eskimos battled back to get a tie.
Last week, the Bombers came from behind late in the fourth quarter to tie the Saskatchewan Roughriders 25-25 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. It’s the first time any team has gone 0-0-2 since the league moved to just two pre-season games in the mid-1980s.
No., 1 quarterback Mike Reilly didn’t suit up for Edmonton so James Franklin started at QB for the Esks and he got off to a great start. He hit D’haquille Williams on a 21-yard TD pass in the first quarter to give Edmonton to a 7-0 lead and then, after Felix Menard-Briere kicked a 27-yard field goal for the Bombers, Edmonton’s Sean Whyte answered to make it 10-3.
In the second quarter, Edmonton’s LaDarius Perkins ran 48 yards for another TD as the Eskimos took a 17-3 lead. Then the Bombers scored 28 consecutive points.
Bombers No. 1 quarterback Matt Nichols hit Clarence Denmark on a seven-yard TD pass and then found Darvin Adams on a 40-yard route in the end zone to tie the game at 17-17 with 50 seconds left in the half.
In the third quarter, Dominique Davis moved to QB for Winnipeg and he ran seven yards for a touchdown to give Winnipeg a 24-17 lead. And in the fourth quarter, Dan LeFevour took over at quarterback and ran three yards to make it 31-17.
Edmonton cut the lead to 31-23 after a two-yard run by Marion Grice, but Winnipeg’s Timothy Flanders exploded for 46 yards and a touchdown to give the Bombers a 38-23 advantage.
Cue Zach Kline. The No. 4 quarterback on the Eskimos depth chart kickstarted a frantic comeback by the visitors. After a great drive, Grice scored his second touchdown of the game, a one-yard run, to make it 38-30. Then the Eskimos recovered the on-side kick and after a pass-interference call, Kline found SB John Harris for a touchdown. Fourth quarter-hero Grice punched home the two-point conversion after another penalty and the game ended in a 38-38 tie.
Kline finished the game 10-for-17 for 127 yards and a TD.
The Bombers’ combination of Nichols and RB Andrew Harris was terrific. Harris carried five times for 41 yards and caught four passes for 49 more. Flanders finished with four carries for 62 yards and a TD and three catches for 37 yards. Darvin Adams had five catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Nichols finished 19-for-24 for 227 yards and two TDs and after a slow start finished off like a guy ready to start the season. Dominique Davis went six-for-eight for 101 yards and LeFevour went three-for-three for 27 yards in his brief appearance.
Head coach Mike O’Shea will have plenty of decisions to make this weekend before determining his final roster
The Bombers will get a week off before heading to Saskatchewan in Week 2 – Saturday, July 1 — for a 7 p.m. matchup with the Roughriders.
Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports
Photos Jeff Miller for MyToba News